On the surface, transitioning to retirement means spending your days on the golf course or on the beach instead of in the office. But failing to prepare for retirement means more complications than leisure.
According to the 2014 Retirement Confidence Survey conducted by the Employee Benefits Institute, more than half of American workers may never achieve their retirement goals, as they haven’t calculated how much money they’ll need in retirement.
When it comes to planning for your “golden years,” there’s a lot at stake – will you have enough to last you your entire life? Will you be able to survive a health care crisis? Flipping the switch from saving to spending is unnerving and complex, but it can be made simpler by avoiding common missteps.
Here are the Top 3 Retirement Mistakes:
- Not saving early enough. The number of Americans who have student loan debt has risen to more than 40 million, and the average student loan debt in the United States is now around $29,000, according to CNN. These factors make it easy to push off saving for retirement until your late twenties or mid-thirties. In fact, the median Millennial has saved exactly $0 for retirement. Nonetheless, it is crucial to start saving for retirement as early as you can – the earlier you start saving, the more likely you are to meet your retirement goals. Unfortunately, when it comes to saving for retirement, it is difficult to make up lost time, and it will be nearly impossible to catch up if you wait too long. Americans are living longer than ever, making it more important than ever that you start saving early to ensure you don’t outlive your money. Even if you can only contribute 1 percent of your annual salary, anything is better than nothing and it can add up quickly!
- Lack of diversity in your retirement portfolio. It is important to diversify your savings if you want to reduce risk and improve return. Investing in your company’s 401(k) is a great way to start a retirement portfolio, but putting all of your eggs in one basket is a common mistake when preparing to retire. It’s also important to assess your investment strategy at different stages in your life. For example, a younger professional may have the luxury of putting their money into high-risk investments, whereas the closer you get to retirement, it may be best to have a low-risk portfolio. A fixed indexed annuity is one example of a conservative retirement product that offers opportunities for growing your retirement savings with protection from market volatility, and can provide you with a guaranteed lifetime income stream.
- Failing to budget properly. Once you have enough money saved up, it’s important to figure out how you want to spend that money. It is essential to realize that the money you have now will no longer be replaced by that regular monthly paycheck, so budgeting is crucial. Remember to take into account that your expenses may increase in retirement. In fact, a recent survey showed that not only does retirement cost more than anticipated, but for 65 percent of retirees surveyed, expenses increased. Expenses that your job may have covered such as healthcare and travel expenses will no longer be covered, and you may have to spend more money on long-term care for yourself or your parents. On top of these necessary investments, retirees often like to cross things off their bucket lists and engage in leisurely activities such as traveling – all of which cost money. Fixed indexed annuities can serve as a solution to budgeting issues, as the product allows you to turn on lifetime income – not only will this help with budgeting monthly expenses, but it can also guarantee that you won’t outlive that income. Using interactive calculators to correctly assess how much your dream retirement may cost and working with a financial planner to project how expenses might rise in the future are other ways to help ensure that you are budgeting properly.